Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 242

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 242

Well, life goes on. We have been preparing for Lindsay’s wedding for 18 months and, ‘poof,’ it’s over. It was amazing. People from all over the world flew in for it and we had a wonderful time.
Lindsay and Thomas focused on the important stuff here. I was very proud. We had a Highland Games before the Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner and I turned the caber. My doctor was very happy…not many people turn cabers six months after a total hip replacement!
And now…things will ease up. I will still travel a lot, but I don’t have to pick up a dozen things here and there. I learned a lot about photography, dresses and catering recently and I will be happy to forget much of it.
On Instagram, I’m #coachdanjohn, where I have the video of my throw. Also on Instagram, I found out that my book, Easy Strength, has become an expensive item to purchase. It was a fun project. Let me summarize the book for you over the next few weeks.
The Quadrants for Strength Coaches
Years ago, Pavel Tsatsouline asked me a simple question: “What is the role of the strength coach?” Well, that’s easy: to coach strength. People come in, we train, they get stronger and…we are all happy.
“Yes, but,” he went on, “what is the impact of the strength coach?”
Now, that is a completely different question. I understood the answer at many levels. Sometimes, the more experience one has, the harder it is to sum all the conflicting and contradictory thoughts. Years ago, I read that a young girl raised her hand and asked an expert in nuclear warfare: “Wouldn’t it be simpler if we just destroyed all the weapons.”
The expert covered his head with his hands and said: “If only it was that simple.”
My task was simple: to discern the impact of the strength coach so that we could “instantly” answer someone about the relative importance of strength coaching in the journey towards specific goals.
Every so often, I rediscover the yellow legal pad that I laid out my doodles, pictures, graphs and geometric shapes attempting to explain the impact of the strength coach. I went through a lot of ideas but the thing that kept me sane was a simple insight:
Only certain people need to chase the biggest numbers in the weightroom. They have the genetics, the geography and the goal of snatching or deadlifting or squatting more weight than any has ever done on this planet. They have a singular vision…a single goal.
The rest of us need become “relatively stronger” for our goal, but not “as strong” (or as fast…or as “fill in the blank”) as these people in this narrow band of chasing a single quality. Some people need a LOT of qualities at a relatively high level. Others just need a little exposure to things and a whole other group need to get fairly strong and still chase a high level of performance in another field (literally, “in a field” in many cases).
I shaped my idea into four quadrants with the X axis rising up to the limits of human abilities and the Y axis the number of qualities individuals chasing this goal would need.
Quadrant One is lots of qualities all at a low level. This would be physical education in youth.

Quadrant Two is lots of qualities at a relatively high level. These are collision sports and occupations.

Quadrant Three is a few (two or three) qualities at a comparatively “low” level. This is most of us; yet, it is also the bulk of the Olympic sports.

Quadrant Four is one (perhaps two) qualities at the highest levels of human performance. Think about the 100-meter sprint, the Olympic lifts and single lift powerlifters.
More on this next week. Let’s look around the net.
This might be the best thing I have read in years. The summary is genius.


Galpin’s prescription: Do a few things involving heavy weight. Do a few things that get your heart rate up. Do a few things that require sustained effort. “It’s not sexy, but all the research shows that those three things are the most important,” he says. If you workout just three times a week, Galpin recommends this program:
    Day 1: Go heavy. Do at least one exercise in each of the five major movement patterns: squat, deadlift, push (chest or shoulder press, pushup, dip), pull (chinup, pulldown, lat pull-down, row), and carry (pick up something heavy with one or both hands and walk). On at least one or two exercises in each workout, go as heavy as you can while maintaining good technique. “On a scale of one to 10, it should rate about seven to nine,” he says. “If you don’t push it, you won’t get stronger.”
    Day 2: Go long. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you keep up a continuous, sustained effort for at least 30 minutes. You can run, ride, or do calisthenics. Your intensity should be high enough to feel like exercise, but not so high that you have to stop and rest.
    Day 3: Go hard. This time your goal is to get your heart rate up near its max through brief bursts of all-out effort. Again, the specific mode of exercise doesn’t matter—you can use a rower or stationary bike, swing a kettlebell, run up a hill. A good target is three to six 30-second intervals, with two to three minutes in between for recovery.
    Beyond Day 3: Go (sort of) heavy again.

End quote
When I read an article like this, I wonder out loud “why doesn’t everyone know this?” But, then I meet people who have great vehicles and become slaves to them. I love this article.


The takeaway here is that your financial well-being is not the product of a million small decisions, but two or three big decisions.
A car can bankrupt you. Or you may get to watch helplessly as it gets towed out of your driveway. And don’t get me started on leasing, the extended warranty of auto finance.
I have had conversations with car salesmen. They all say the same thing: “I can get you in that car.” They are pretty creative, financially speaking, and will find some way to make the sale, even if it puts you in a perilous financial position.
That is not their concern. Their concern is selling cars. The ideal scenario: Get a gently used Toyota, pay cash, drive it forever. You win the personal-finance game.
You should have $1 million before you buy a new Beamer or a Benz.

End quote
This is the kind of article that I applaud. This, to me, was the promise of the internet.


Captain Pietro Querini, a Venetian merchant sailor, and his crew of 68 were bound for Flanders from Crete in the fall of 1431 when his ship was blown off course by ravaging storms near the English Channel. Damaged beyond repair, the drifting vessel was abandoned for two life rafts, one of which disappeared and was never seen again. The other floated up to the North Sea, finally landing on the rocky southern tip of Norway’s Lofoten Islands. Near frozen and delirious with hunger, Querini and his 10 remaining men clambered ashore in January 1432.
Larsen, who spends his days pacing between a 19th-century brass cash register and a pot of coffee, explains how a father and son from the island of Røst rescued Querini’s crew. A small fishing village punctuating the island chain, Røst welcomed the starving men, feeding them with stockfish, air-dried until stiff as a board and salty as the ocean air ripping along Norway’s shoreline. It was this unlikely, petrified beacon of hope and the hospitable people of Lofoten that sparked a centuries-long love affair between Italy and Norway.

End quote
This article on Jane Austen and health had me taking notes. I found it amazing.


But while Austen fully encouraged this mental diet of sorts, she never encouraged actual dietary deprivation. Quite the contrary. Austen seemed to grasp what science only started understanding in the 1950s, that the only way to stop obsessing about food is to start eating. It may seem paradoxical, but no one can trick their hunger hormones for too long and Austen certainly makes sure her heroines eat, in ways that are fully and naturally satisfying. Though she might be mentally stoic about food, Catherine Morland is proud of possessing “a good appetite” in Northanger Abbey. She simply eats when she’s hungry, even late at night after a ball. Emma Woodhouse, in turn, respects the food calls of nature, duly promising “that she would take something to eat, if hungry”.
Yet Austen’s simple reminders to eat well, regularly and without guilt, still feel as revolutionary today as they did in the early 1800s. Indeed, period fashions promoted exactly the opposite. “A woman should never be seen eating or drinking,” snickered Lord Byron, reflecting the sexist sentiment of the day, one that considered the natural act of eating as somehow an unwomanly enterprise. It was one of the first cultural fads Austen lambasted as a teenager with biting wit in her story, Love and Friendship, particularly in one frank acknowledgement: “It was first necessary to eat.” It was a fad she continued to rebut throughout her literary life.

End quote
Well, that’s enough for this week. I will be cleaning up for a bit with boxes and wedding stuff, but I will still hunt around the net for some fun stuff to read.
Until next time, keep on lifting and learning.


For your quick access link, here’s Dan’s full OTP page, including all of his articles, books, lectures and videos, all in one place.

The Sword in the Stone, Part 96
“You asked to be turned into a snake once,” said Merlyn. “Do you still want that?”
“Yes, please.”
“It isn’t much of a life. I don’t think you’ll get anything very exciting to happen to you. This chap probably only eats about once a week or once a fortnight, and the rest of the time he dreams. Still, if I turned you into one, you might get him to talk. It won’t be more than that.”
“I should like it all the same.”
“Well, it will be a rest after shooting griffins.”
Merlyn loosed the grass snake, which immediately flashed off into the nettles. Then he exchanged a few words in Greek with and invisible gentleman called Aesculapius, and turned to the Wart.

He said, “I shall stay here for an hour or two, and perhaps I shall sit down against that tree and have a nap. Then I want you to come out to me when I call you. Good-by.”
End quote

Merlyn and his naps. It always makes me smile when he references napping. There is a mention of Wart asking to be turned into snake earlier in our story, but that must be an episode that White didn’t share with us.
You probably would know Aesculapius by his symbol, the snake entwined on the staff. It’s the symbol for doctors and medicine traditionally. He was a Son of Apollo and you would recognize the names of two of his daughters, Hygiene and Panacea.
Wart is still recovering from the great fight with the Griffin and the snake will be a great teacher. When I was young, there was a lot of discussion about passive learning while sleeping. I’m not sure what came of it, but Wart is going this art a try.



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